Monday 19 August 2019

'We're in a mess for a reason' - Kevin Kilbane blasts FAI and says Stephen Kenny needs time as Ireland boss

110-times capped defender believes Kenny needs to be given three qualifying campaigns to make a success of Irish senior job

Ireland Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny will replace Mick McCarthy as senior boss next year. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny will replace Mick McCarthy as senior boss next year. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Bennett

Former international Kevin Kilbane has claimed Stephen Kenny will need three qualifying campaigns when he takes over as Ireland senior team manager.

Kilbane insists that Kenny - currently Ireland Under-21 boss - will need to be given time by the FAI to make a success of the job when he takes over from Mick McCarthy.

"The mess that's been around the FAI for such a long time that's coming to the fore now is everything is being gauged on qualification," said Kilbane speaking on the Independent.ie/Eir Sport LOI Weekly podcast.

"Stephen Kenny has to be given two campaigns. Because if we fail in the first one, it's got to be about the next campaign after that, and the one after that.

"I know the way that football fans are going to think. If were not at the Euros or the World Cup then it's deemed a failure, when it's not.

"We have to give him a minimum two campaigns. You can't have ten or 12 games across a year and that's going to dictate the way we're going as a team.

"It can't be 10 games, it has to be minimum 25 games so it's probably three campaigns that's the way we have to do it. That's got to be the model.

"We're in a mess for a reason and the reason has been instant success, get qualification.

"We didn't qualify, that famous game in 2009 (against France) when we didn't qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. that was like end of the world 'what's it costing the FAI?'

"It cannot be the model."

As assistant to Kenny with the Ireland Under-21s, Keith Andrews has seen at close quarters the job the Tallaght native is currently doing and has fully backed his philosophy.

"I've loved being back involved with the players and having a purpose to watching games," said Andrews.

Former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane. Photo: PA
Former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane. Photo: PA

"In terms of working with him (Kenny) it's constantly improving, with the backroom team, all the medical side.

"I wouldn't just go to be part of the furniture, so it's finding that balance on working with someone for the first time.

"For Stephen as well, he's very hands on, for him at times he needs to relinquish a little bit to let me and Jim (Crawford) do somewthing so it's getting that balance. It's been absolutely brilliant."

Andrews added: "He's very unique. I didn't know Stephen. We get on very well. He's got a very unique way. I've worked in football clubs as a member of staff and as a player under numerous managers and coaching staff and he's very unlike any of the others.

"There's no airs or graces, he is real. There's nothing fake about him in an industry that is rife with people that are fake.

"I wouldn't be getting involved if we were playing Jack Charlton-style football, but I have utter belief in these players. He has utter belief in them to try and get them to a level and prepare them as well as we can.

"But he an utter belief in how the game should be played."

Kilbane added: "There's no waffle about him (Kenny). No sh*te. You know full well that what he says is what he's doing rather than having a secret agenda."

Andrews also compared Kenny methods to one of his former managers, Sam Allardyce.

"Sam Allardyce was a manager who I really enjoyed working under, but he wouldn't fill you full of confidence that you could go out and beat a Liverpool or a Manchester United. That was probably one of his downfalls, I felt, as he concentrated on the teams that were sixth or seventh down.

"They were out games that we had to maximise results from. Whereas when you look at someone like Stephen, who I'm working with now, he instills belief.

"I had a story from one of his old assistants, saying, when he got to Longford years ago it was a field. He said 'we'll be playing in Europe'.

"And people were like 'you've gone.' But they got into Europe."

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